Southgate should stick with Phil Foden

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In his exclusive Betway column, the former England No. 1 backs Phil Foden to improve and picks his team for the Three Lions’ next Euro 2024 game against Denmark.

I thought it was a good England performance against Serbia, but a better result. We were dominant in the first half with Jude Bellingham running the show, then we just ran out of steam and let Serbia back into it in the second half. I had felt it was going to be tight, but we got the three points, which is what it’s all about.

Bellingham was brilliant. It’s great to watch a lad of 20 with the maturity that he plays with. His goal was fantastic, because it wasn’t an easy header – he knew there was a strong challenge coming but still put his head on the line, got great contact and took the blow afterwards. He plays with such confidence in all his touches and the way he dominates other players – even the little shoulder barge he gave one of the Serbian players. He needs to be careful not to get too carried away with stuff like that, but his confidence is great to see.

Bukayo Saka also stood out, and it was like a typical game that he plays for Arsenal where he gets kicked everywhere on the pitch but still affects the result. Both he and Harry Kane were man-marked really physically, but in the first half Bukayo was running rings around the Serbia left-back. He got a fortunate deflection on the cross for his assist, but he was in there, making a difference.

Foden will get himself more involved

Phil Foden’s lack of influence has been a talking point after the game, and I think Phil is unfortunate that Bellingham goes into the areas that he normally occupies for Man City.

There’s a bit of a crossover there but you can’t have both players in that No. 10 position, so Phil needs to adapt to where Gareth Southgate is asking him to play and start affecting the game. I’ve got no doubt that he will work it out because he’s a quality player.

Jude drifted out of the game a little bit in the second half, and maybe that’s when Phil can decide to pop into the midfield to help out. Even as good a player as Phil Foden is, that sense of adapting his game and sorting out situations on the pitch is something he can add to his game.

Phil should be getting himself involved a little bit more, but he can’t go and take the game by the scruff of the neck because he’s playing in a wider position and he’s got defensive responsibilities. There’s a right-footer at left-back in Kieran Trippier, so he needs some help and gets that from Phil. Jude has the license to roam, so Phil can’t do that because then the balance of the team would be all over the place.

When Phil gets the ball, though, he can really influence the game. I wouldn’t leave him out of the team, because who would you put in that’s as good as Phil Foden? Nobody.

No need for major changes against Denmark

The only change I would consider making to the team depends on the Luke Shaw situation. If he’s fit then I’d bring him in at left-back.

Having a natural left-footer behind Foden would help him. When Shaw’s playing, his natural body position is to open up and bend the ball down the line, whereas Trippier prefers to come inside onto his right foot, so he’s closing down the option to Foden straight away.

Otherwise, I would leave it as it is, as I don’t see any reason to change the team. I didn’t have Trent Alexander-Arnold in my line-up before the tournament, but I understand why he’s playing there. He’s got a passing range that can unlock a defence and he’s great from dead-ball situations.

I was very impressed by Marc Guehi at the back. He stepped in and looked like he’d been playing in defence for England for years. He was really confident and composed on the ball. Sometimes I thought he might smash it up the pitch, but instead he took control, found a player and played it out.

Germany looking impressive

Of the other contenders to win the tournament, I thought Italy looked good as they came from behind to beat Albania. Spain were very also good and even seemed to take their foot off the gas after going 3-0 up against Croatia.

It was hard to judge Germany because Scotland went down to 10 men early on in the first half, which made it a no-contest. It was a good start for Germany, though, who have got so many proper players, like Toni Kroos, who have been playing at big clubs for so long. It was a dominant performance against a Scotland team that – without wanting to be too critical – looked a little bit out of their depth.

Arsenal should prioritise a striker like Sesko

He’s signed a new contract with RB Leipzig, but Benjamin Sesko looks the perfect type of striker that Arsenal need. He was impressive for Slovenia against Denmark. I’ve talked about how they need a physically dominant No. 9 who can hold the ball up, and Sesko has that Haaland-type frame.  He might be staying at RB Leipzig for now, but you never know what might happen in the future. Adding a few notes usually changes things!

When it comes to transfers, it will be quiet for most clubs until Euro 2024 is over. You don’t know what sort of injuries players might pick up, so you have to wait and see a little bit. I still feel Arsenal need to prioritise a striker, and any midfield signings would depend on if Thomas Partey stays or goes. If he stays, then I don’t think midfield is a priority. I’d also possibly look for a back-up for Saka and more depth at centre-half. None of it is urgent, though. Arsenal don’t need a lot of new signings, just one or two in key positions.

Visit Betway’s Euro 2024 betting page and check out our complete guide to Euro 2024.

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